“It’s Not a Recession!”

The current global economy is not in Recession, but undergoing a fundamental economic Transformation driven by many new technologies coming together. At rare intervals in world history, transformational technologies combine to outdate existing economic and employment models.

This is a core proposition of the futurist Edie Weiner, who was keynote speaker at our recent IOD Conference. She described for us these dominant economies and massively disruptive end-dates:

  • Agricultural Economy – dominant in profit and employment for 10,000 years to 1750
  • Industrial Economy – for 200 years to 1950
  • Post-industrial Economy – for 45 years to 1995
  • Emotile Economy – for 20-25 years to about 2008
  • Metaspace Economy – for say 12 years to 2020 These transformations occur when confluence of technology drives down cost, so that mature products and services become cheaper and commoditised, and capital, surpluses and employment opportunities are freed to flow from those sectors to the new. The old economies survive, but in overtaken and diminished layers. Example: cellphone prices decline from $1,000 to $10, while enormously more functional. Example: in the USA, only 3% of employees work in the agricultural sector and 11% in the industrial. So far, so understandable.

But a new problem in economic and employment terms is the Accelerating Pace of Change. Everything must speed up – including the ability of enterprise to put in place the new businesses that will provide investment and work opportunity for those resources displaced from the highly efficient, mature sectors. With transformational intervals halving, there is just not enough time! So, the redundant resources (both people and money) cannot find a new workplace. Those workers immobilised by skills specific to a shrinking sector or by yesterday’s pay expectations – there are many millions of these folk in Europe, North America and Australia – face a grim future. Their incomprehension, fear and anger also shows in governments being tossed out faster.

Her message is clear – that the old economic models don’t work anymore. While holding to the Vision, we must be willing to discard old strategies, old assets, old competencies, old qualifications and old jobs. While they got us to where we are today, they should be seen as baggage – probably irrelevant and restrictive for tomorrow.

Ms Weiner is not gloomy though. By predicting our discretionary spending trends, she identifies new areas of economic activity which should be rich in employment and profit. Throwing a Metaspace blanket over them all, she lists numerous credible enterprise opportunities – e.g. in design, storage, time-value, micro, outer, inner and Green to Blue space.

The challenge for Ordinary Bears is to get our heads round the new economy and technologies – to have the complexopacity (lovely word) to comprehend accelerating complexity and to Get on with the NEW.

For more of Edie, see http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/TEDxMidwest-Edie-Weiner-Not-Rec

Aren’t you glad it’s not a Recession?